Have you ever wondered what made the world tick? Who was right with their stories of how we were made? As far as I know, no belief was completely wrong, that deities existed for millennia before our planet, and they all played a part in creation. I come from what you may know of as the Greek Gods, but I just know them as family.
My name is Vulcan Winters, but I never used that surname, as I never knew the mother I got it from. My father was Hephaestus, god of the forge and fire. I trained from the age of 5 until I was 15 under multiple mentors. My father taught me the ways of the forge. Ares taught me my way around a sword, but I never got anywhere near as skilled as he was. Hecate taught me to use magic; most notably, how to control my inherited skill of pyromancy.
When my father revealed to his wife Aphrodite that he had gotten a mortal woman pregnant, she was furious, but she soon was forced to bite her tongue only a few months later when she found out that she was pregnant with the child of a mortal tailor. She was pregnant with Amanda. Amanda Nichols was born 10 months after I was, in August of 1997, and I was born in October of ’96.
My mother – Emily Winters – died in childbirth, and Aphrodite grew fond of Amanda so both her and I were raised on Olympus. We were both supposed to be cup bearers until our 18th birthdays, when we would be allowed to roam the world on our own accord, but lord Apollo insisted that I be trained as a warrior, because the Oracle of Delphi foretold of a massive conflict coming. Amanda demanded the gods train her as well, not usually a smart move, but her mother convinced Zeus that we would need as many warriors as we could get.
Best friends from birth, but separated at 5 years old. It wasn’t until late 2007 that I saw her again, and we didn’t even recognize each other, however it only took a few days before we were just as close as we had been 5 years prior. Being only 10 years old at the time, I didn’t realize how I felt about her. I hadn’t had many friends besides those I met while training to fight so I figured that all friendships were like this. Being raised as soldiers made us more mature than the average child, but we were still just that, children.
When we weren’t being trained to fight a war that wasn’t ours to fight, Amanda and I spent every moment together. Most of the time we would play on Olympus, but once I turned 12 the gods gave us permission to travel to the mortal world with the use of a magical key that could open a portal to anywhere on the earth within reason, but we were not to abuse the power, as it had a 6 hour cool down. It’s a good thing my father had my back and insisted I take my short-sword Ankle-Biter, since we ran into a few monsters.
Most of the time we would just visit various sights, but for her 12th birthday, we snuck into an amusement park using the key to get in for free. It was a perfect day, we were free of the pressure and for a while, we could forget the destiny that loomed so closely overhead. Our entire day was spent running from ride to ride, having fun, and eating all the junk food we could keep down. I had never seen someone smile so much in a single day. That night, the park had fireworks since it was a Saturday, so we stayed late to watch them.
We managed to get on the massive Ferris wheel so we could watch the fireworks from high up. We got lucky and they stopped the wheel when we were at the top. She scooted close to me and rested her head on my torso, I was half a foot taller than her so this wasn’t a difficult task, so in return I put my arm over her shoulders. The fireworks lit up the dark sky in a brilliant display of colors.
After a few moments, I noticed that Amanda was softly crying. When I asked her what was wrong, she told me that nothing was wrong, her tears were caused by how happy she was. She had never had such a perfect birthday before, and that it was the best day of her life. Once I got her to stop crying, we watched the fireworks in silence. My heart pounded in my chest. I developed a crush on, and fallen in love with my bestfriend over the past 2 years. I didn’t know what to do; I have never been in love before. My mind was split in two halves, one saying to do nothing and sit there in silence, the other half said to throw caution to the wind, and kiss her. I had fought monsters before – creatures that would make grown men run away screaming – and here I was, terrified to kiss a girl. I sat with my arm around her for what felt like eternity. Finally, the grand finale kicked into play, and a grand display of fireworks sent colors the likes of which I had never seen, blazing in the sky. That’s when I took my chance. I lifted myself away from her and looked her in the eyes. We were only like that for less than a second, but it felt like hours before I said, “I’m sorry, I just have to,” and I kissed her. Her and I would always joke about that line. She pulled away for a second, and I was terrified that she didn’t like me like that, but she just locked eyes with me again, and kissed me back.
The rest of the night passed in a blur, but I remember us using the key to go back to Olympus before the Ferris wheel got to the ground.
You would think that something like that would have made our friendship awkward, but it didn’t; if anything, it made us closer. We weren’t officially dating, but we were more than friends. We shared a kiss every now and again, usually as a way to wish each other good luck, and always where no one would see us. If I ever got cocky, or asked for one, she would refuse with a smirk on her face.
The years passed by in a blur; our training continued, now together we learned to fight as a unit. She always had my back, and I had hers. We grew closer every day, and all the gods could see it. On more than one occasion, Aphrodite asked to speak to us in private, only to leave Amanda and I locked in a room together. She was the only god that knew that Amanda and I were already more than friends, but she seemed determined to get us even closer.
In late 2013, we received word of a demigod. She was homeless, living under a bridge in Orlando, Florida. We were worried we were too late because as we were searching the area for her, we heard a pack of hell hounds howling from nearby. We hurried to the sounds of the baying hounds and when we got to the scene, we were astonished by what we found. A terrified boy, only slightly older than me, was holding a bloody kitchen knife. At his feet lay three dead hell hounds. Each of them had been stabbed in the throat. There was something underneath them; at first, I thought it might be a fourth monster, but I quickly realized it was a girl. Seeing the four heavily armored teenagers, equipped with swords, the boy dropped his knife and started sobbing.
The girl had similar features to the boy so I suspected they might be twins, but our Intel only spoke of one demigod, and I suspected that be her. They were nearly identical, except she had longer, shoulder length hair that was buzzed on her left side, and it had rainbow highlights towards the bottom. I met her in Elysium.
The boy turned out to be my cousin Lycus. He was a son of Deimos – the god of terror – but over the years, I grew to see him as a brother to me. He was 3 years older than me, but I was an inch taller than him. His hair was a black, spiky crew cut, and he had dark, maroon eyes.
The girl was his twin sister, just as I had guessed. Her name was Phoebe; most likely named after her uncle. Even if parents don't realize it, their children's godly blood tend to influence the minds of those around them. They didn’t know what they were, but they knew that it was monsters that were following them all the time. When they were 10, their parents sent them for psychological evaluation, and the doctors loaded them up with all kinds of pills to make the “visions” go away. When they didn’t work, Phoebe began to suspect that something was going on so they ran away when they were 14. They lived on the streets for two years until we found them. Despite them being twins, she always acted as the big sister, and always protected him. She tried to fight off the hounds, but she didn’t make it. The only reason that Lycus made it out alive was that he managed to get the knife from her hands before the hounds started feasting on her, and killed them while they were distracted.
Despite his menacing appearance and all he had been through, he was a lighthearted guy. He always had this mischievous look in his eyes, like he was planning a new joke. But every once in a while, I would catch him staring off into the distance, a deep sadness in his eyes. At the time I didn’t fully understand what it was like to lose someone close to you.
Monsters seemed to be growing bolder; attacks were becoming more frequent, and even a few tried to scale Olympus; we were all scared, the war was growing closer. In Early December, 2012, the worst attack yet occurred. A hydra – one of the children of the immortal Lernean Hydra – made it all the way to the gates. It was a massive beast, standing at least fifteen feet tall on four legs with a thick, armor-like, scale hide. The most terrifying thing about it were the 7 heads that topped each neck.
I had heard the legends of the powers of Medusa, and how she could turn anyone to stone with a single gaze, but when I looked into the eyes of that abomination, I was frozen with fear, and I was sure that I had been turned to stone. I would have been monster chow if it weren’t for Amanda. She snapped me out of it and calmed me down in only a moment. It probably wasn’t the best time to ask for a lucky kiss, but she simply smiled and said, “Survive this fight, then maybe we’ll see.”
That cheered me up instantly, but we were still in trouble. Amanda and I were the only two on gate duty that day. We hoped that someone would hear the beast and come running, but so far, that hadn’t happened yet. I had stopped using Ankle-Biter, and traded it out for a slightly longer, Naue-II style sword named Autus. I brought up all the lessons I learned on hydras: Their father’s heads would double if cut off, and I didn't feel like testing the theory that his children had the same ability, they could breathe fire, their blood was poisonous to mortals, and there was something else I had forgotten.
I twitched my head to the side, a gesture that would look meaningless, but the meaning was clear to Amanda, go get help.
I rushed the beast dodging from side to side as it slashed and lunged at me. When I was within ten feet, it jumped back and breathed fire directly at me. I dived directly into the flames, calling on my father’s control over fire, and my pyromancy to protect me, and stabbed directly where his heart would be. Instead, Autus simply bounced off the hydra’s scales. I was thrown off balance and as I fell to the side, and looked up at the beast, I remembered what I had forgotten about hydras. The middle head spit acid straight at me. I managed to roll out of the way of the sizzling liquid before it hit me. I scrambled to my feet and got next to Amanda.
“I thought I told you to get help,” I yelled, “We could really use Lycus right about now!”
“I’m not leaving you alone with this thing, we will be fine.”
I let out a sigh of defeat, “The hide can’t be pierced by bronze, any ideas?” I asked her.
As we spoke, we ran clockwise around the beast, keeping it confused and off balance. For something with 14 eyes, it was crap at following a moving target.
“The story of your uncle, Heracles; he managed to cut off the heads and burn the stumps so they wouldn't grow back. Is there any way that we can use that?”
I thought about the creature's apparent weakness to fire despite being able to breathe it, and an idea popped into my head. “Keep it distracted.” I commanded.
I switched directions, moving counterclockwise, and just as I planned, half of the heads tried to follow me, knocking into and getting tangled with the ones focused on Amanda. I took the opportunity to jump onto the beasts back. I blasted Autus with fire, heating it to red hot. I slashed at the opening between the scales of one of the heads. With a roar, the head came clean off. I managed to get a second one off before the hydra threw me off in anger. When my head hit the ground, my vision got fuzzy, and my ears started ringing.
Amanda made the mistake of taking her focus off of the hydra for just a second to watch me fall. It whipped her legs with its tail and sent her flying through the air. She landed on her stomach, clearly disoriented, but still trying to get up. She got to her knees, as all the heads focused on her, and reared back, preparing to roast her alive. I'm not sure how I did it because even with my head injury, and even though she was at least 30 feet away, I managed to get over to her in less than a second. I tackled her to the ground, trying to shield her body with mine to protect her from the flames, but I underestimated my strength. I wound up throwing her about 15 feet away, while I landed where she had been standing. I braced myself for the oncoming flames, but instead of fire, acid flew directly at me. I blacked out to the feeling of agony enveloping my left side, and my body igniting.
I woke up 2 days later, my left leg, torso, and left arm all wrapped in bandages. I managed to lift my head to see that I was in the medical bay of the Olympian training facility. I could see dark skies out the window and the lights were dim. Amanda was asleep in a chair to the right of my bed.
“Hey,” I said, my voice hoarse from not being used.
Her eyes fluttered open and when she realized that I was awake she threw herself out of the chair and wrapped her arms around me. She started crying and hugging me tighter, so I decided not to mention how much it was hurting my wounds.
“We thought you were done for,” she choked out. “It was the Hydra.” She pulled her chair closer to my bed and sat back down, still holding my hand.
My confusion must have been clear on my face because she elaborated, “The Lernean Hydra, the same one your uncle fought. The Apollo says the conflict we’ve been training for is close. Monsters are rising from the depths of Tartarus, but that’s not all. They’re congregating; it’s almost as if they are preparing for war. Its acid almost killed you; Apollo did all that Zeus would allow. He probably only let him help so much because you won the fight.” That comment surprised me. “Apollo said that you probably wouldn’t have made it if the fire hadn’t burned away so much of the acid.”
“Hold on a second,” I stopped her, “what are you talking about? What fire? And I didn’t win that battle, I went down and the Hydra blasted me with acid. That doesn’t sound like a win to me.”
“You mean you don’t remember?” She asked, confusing me even more.
“After the acid hit you, something happened.” She explained cautiously. “You screamed for a moment as I tried to get to you, but then you stopped and glared at me. Your eyes were dark and empty. It shocked me and made me freeze up. You got off the ground, acid dripping off of you and hissing on the ground. Your sword melted but you somehow made a new blade out of fire that glowed white and so bright it was hard to look at. You went into a frenzy, hacking and slashing at the Hydra. After a few wounds, it tried to run but you somehow held it back by the tail. After that, you cut off all of its heads. The one that spit acid was the immortal head, but you managed to use the key to open a gate to the Earthly opening to Tartarus, and threw the head in.”
“How?” Was all I could say.
“I don’t know,” she looked down solemnly, “No one does, but Apollo finally revealed the prophecy that the Oracle of Delphi foretold when you and I were kids.”
She looked obviously shaken, something had changed in her.
She began to recite the prophecy, “An origin shrouded in mystery, a creature destined to make history. To turn the tides of endless conflict, only death will he inflict. The darkest title to be earned against an army that wish everything to burn. Risen from torment the ancient ones strike the dove, forced to feel the wrath of love. A creature the world has never known, destined to save or destroy his home.”
I understood now why she was scared, this told of very bad things to come. “The dove. That would be your mother, right?”
“Yeah,” she looked into my eyes and seemed to calm down a bit, “and feel the wrath of love, that’s probably your father, that or Ares.” She looked disgusted at the thought of her mother's lover.
“Anyway, we can talk to them about it in the morning, we both should try to sleep through the rest of the night.” She went to lean back in her chair but I stopped her. I scooted over and invited her to share the bed with me and after a moments consideration, she agreed and we slept back to back.
It was two weeks before they released me, but Lycus and Amanda visited me constantly. She probably would have stayed with me all day, everyday, but just because I was laid up, didn't mean that she got to skip out on training.
Following my release, we trained harder than ever before, and studied even more intensely. We had to be ready for anything that came our way. My magic mentor, Hecate, had gone missing, and we feared that she had been captured or worse
Amanda and I began officially dating, but never did anything more than kissing, cuddling, and going on dates; that was partly because I didn’t want her to see the scars left by the acid. She didn’t even know they were there. I wore long sleeves at all times, and just said that Apollo’s healing had worked.
Then the war started. It was February 2013 when the first battle occurred. I forged one final sword with the blessing of my father, a double-edged xiphos style blade made of iron that I didn’t name, as I knew that one day the name would come to me in battle. I was placed as leader of my own squadron of 50 warriors, formed of demigods, mortals, and nature spirits. I was overconfident as we marched out to the streets of Bellport, New York; it was a town where our influence was still high, and we had many allies there that helped us keep watch on the mortal world. I thought that with my strength and control over fire, we would be unbeatable; Amanda and I lead them side-by-side. It was a massacre on both sides. The battalion that we fought was comprised of hundreds of monsters, including Medusa and the Minotaur. Those two managed to escape at the end of the battle, but we killed over a hundred others. Amanda and I took out several hellhounds and we even worked together to take out a drakon. Our skills had improved exponentially since our encounter with the Lernean Hydra.
But we had heavy casualties as well. Out of the 50 soldiers, 15 made it out alive, Amanda and I badly wounded. Worst of all, Lycus was gone. At one point in the battle, he ran off with a small group in order to protect a few mortals who had gotten wrapped up in the fighting. When I ordered the retreat, he was nowhere to be seen, and his emergency beacon had never been activated, so I ran back out there. The only sign of his was his armor that lay torn on the ground, no body was found. Our parents put us on the sidelines and told us we were never to fight in the war again. It was the first time the gods expressed compassion towards us; they would never admit it, but they wanted to protect us. We however, didn’t care; in our minds that was a crushing blow that cost the monsters heavily in their ranks. Every time there was a big battle on the way, we would sneak out of Olympus and go down to help, always sticking to the back and keeping ourselves hidden. We didn’t want to lose someone close to us again, and that meant we had to work to win this war.
That night, my friends, and brothers in arms gave me their condolences for the loss of my squadron but none really stuck around for any amount of time after funeral service. I could feel the glares of the family members of those that were lost. Amanda was the only one who stayed with me to comfort me. I took the loss of those warriors lives hard, despite my confidence in our fight, I blamed myself for the loss of my men. She wouldn’t let me be alone for more than 2 hours, always sending me messages if she couldn’t meet me in person. She even slept on the floor of my bedroom to comfort me. One night I had a nightmare and when I woke up I saw her down there - the choice was simple. I lifted her covers and slept under them, my back pressed against hers, just like how we slept in the med bay. I hadn’t had such a good night’s sleep since before the battle.
During a small battle in Montauk, NY, I got injured, not severely enough for me to go to Apollo’s healers, but still not safe to leave it untreated, so I went to the person I trusted most. We were all taught basic combat medicine during training, so Amanda would be able to help me.
We went to my room, and got an area cleaned up and laid down a tarp to keep any blood from staining the floor. I sat down and remembered I had to warn her.
“The scars, they didn’t all heal after the hydra attack,” I started, “just be ready, it's not that pretty.”
“Oh,” she sounded nervous, “Is it bad?”
I started to question my choice of having her help me, but I trusted her, and it was too late to turn back anyway. “It's better if I just show you.” I took off my leather jacket, and peeled off my shirt, with my back facing her so she would see the wound before the scars. A 3-inch blade of obsidian had broken off in my back after I had been stabbed by an empousa. Due to the brittle nature of obsidian, and the location of the wound on my back, I could shatter it under my skin, causing permanent damage. Slowly I turned around to face her. The scars were jagged and made the skin on my chest tight, making it sometimes uncomfortable to breath heavy. They stretched from my left shoulder, down to the middle of my waistline, and ran down my arm all the way to the elbow. She gasped, but didn't react the way I'd expected her to; instead she reached out to touch them. I flinched at her touch, and she hesitated.
“It’s alright,” I told her.
She looked up into my eyes as she traced one of the scar lines from my shoulder down to my naval.
“Why didn't you tell me about this?” she didn't sound hurt that I had kept it from her, just confused.
“I didn’t know how you would react,” I looked away from her, “it’s not exactly attractive.”
“They’re fine,” she placed her hand against my chest for a second, then she spun her finger in the air, “Now turn around, let's see the damage.”
She examined the wound, "You have to be more careful," She was trying not to cry, but I could hear it in her voice. "This blade is barely an inch from your heart, and it’s a miracle that it didn’t cut an artery." She went quiet for a few seconds as she applied a salve that will lessen the pain. "I don’t know what I would do if I lost you. It was hard enough losing Lycus." She chuckled for a second, "Remember when you first offered to train him?"
"Yeah," I let out a little laugh myself, "he followed me around like a puppy for weeks."
"He really looked up to you, you know?"
"Yeah, I know." My smile faded as fond memories of him resurfaced. "I always thought it was funny; he was 16 when we found him, but he treated me like some wise old mentor."
"Well you did already have 7 years of training by then, even though you were younger than him." She kissed the small of my back reassuringly. She squeezed my hand, Brace yourself.
I grabbed my shirt and put it between my teeth. I squeezed back, Go ahead.
She pulled the blade out and I realized for the first time why obsidian was such a painful material. Steel and other metals will just come out the hole it made; obsidian on the other hand is so sharp that it will continue to cut it way out, or deeper into you whenever its moved.
The summer came and Amanda and I had plans to attend a mortal summer camp together. It was 8 weeks up in the mountains, and it was some of the most fun we’d had since her 12th birthday. All had gone well except for this one guy who kept causing trouble the whole time; trying to get me kicked out, and such. I don’t even remember his name or his face anymore. 6 weeks had passed and it was a couple days until her 16th birthday when we were called back to Olympus. A massive attack was coming for the camp because our location had been given away by a spy, one of our own turned against us. People were scared; could this be the creature that the fate of Olympus rested on? We were to remain on Olympus from then on.
We couldn’t let our new friends die. We got the information that the attack would be on Amanda’s birthday, so the night before we snuck back to the camp. We informed our most trusted friends, and the ones who could use weapons such as the camps bows, and small caliber rifles. The rest we managed to get evacuated so there would be as little collateral damage as possible. 47 teenagers armed with weapons surrounding the border of the camp, ready for the attack, 45 of which were mortal and untrained for combat. Only a few weeks beforehand, my father and I developed a new kind of armor; a form of chainmail that looked like normal, mortal clothing so it was comfortable and inconspicuous. We didn’t have enough to outfit everyone, but most of the fighters had armor now. Amanda and I wound up giving ours up since we figured the others would need it more than us. The fighters that got to Elysium were our friends: Julia, Tomas, Adrien, and this wallflower boy who hardly ever talked to us. He just kept to himself most of the time but he seemed to enjoy our company whenever we were around, and he was a brilliant fighter. I didn’t learn that his name was Jack Nichols until after I reached Elysium myself. He was Amanda’s half-brother and they never even met. A couple of our friends survived the battle. They went down as legendary heroes, dubbed the “Lohikan Warriors.” Lohikan being the name of the camp
The battle was being pushed to the center of camp; a spot called the Zeyger Plaza. It was a large stretch of grass behind the dining hall, that ended at a cliff that overlooked the camps lake, a quarter mile downhill. Many innocent lives were lost before I heard the roar of a bull. The Minotaur was back for round 2 and I did not intend to let him Escape again. I passed command over to a trusted friend of mine, a natural born leader, named Gianna Williamson Using Reaper, I hacked and slashed my way through hordes of karpoi, empusai, harpies, cyclops, and several other breeds of nightmares I didn’t take the time to identify. With Amanda and the camps best archers at my side, I wasn’t going alone. The archers formed a ring around the Minotaur, Amanda, and I, led by a counselor named Chase Miller, one of the few mortals who survived the conflict, and one of the bravest mortals I had ever met. They kept the hordes of monsters at bay while we fought this one.
Amanda and I were locked in a two-on-one conflict with the Minotaur, but the numbers didn’t make it any easier. This was a warrior tougher than any I had ever met in combat besides the Hydra. He may have been outnumbered, but we were outmatched. He was ten feet tall and had arms as thick as cinder blocks, and covered in brown fur. His horns were pointed and he had a brass ring in his nose. His weapon of choice was a battle axe the size of my torso. His blows were so strong that we couldn’t block them, and could barely parry. Despite his size, he could still move shockingly fast.
At one point, I managed to sink my sword a few inches into his left arm, but it only seemed to make him angrier. He knocked my sword out of my hands and I was too tired to make use of my fire powers. He smacked both Amanda and I onto the ground, and I heard her scream. I saw her leg, and it wasn’t supposed to bend that way. Luckily the archers were still holding the other monsters back, and they seemed to have stopped attacking as intensely upon the orders of the Minotaur. Speaking of that beast, he had dropped his axe, lowered his head, and was preparing to charge. I was in no shape to move, block, or counter – this was it.
Time slowed down. The bull man charged me, those spears aimed right for my chest as I struggled to get up. I couldn’t hear the grunts of pain coming from beside me. He was closing the gap - 8 feet, 7, 6, 5. 4 feet away when it happened. Someone jumped in front of him. They jabbed a knife into the back of the Minotaur’s neck, stopping it, but not killing. Both horns stuck out of the back of my saviors’ shirt, the fabric now turning red rapidly. It took me a moment to realize.
That was Amanda.
The prophesy was beginning to make sense. They struck the dove; my dove. Now they would be forced to face the wrath of the creature the world had never seen. History played out before my eyes; generations of my family were courted by gods, nature spirits and other creatures. I was more magical than mortal. The most recent was my mother, but she wasn’t a demigod. Her mother managed to invoke the essence of Kronos, but his powers never surfaced in her. I am the Demi-Titan.
Time wasn’t moving. My immortal blood had taken over. My grandfather's abilities as the lord of time had allowed me the revenge I needed. I rushed the beast, faster than any demigod had ever gone. I covered his body in lacerations that began to ooze blood as I attacked. I slashed off his horns and placed Amanda on the ground, careful not to let the horns come out to slow the blood loss. Then I stabbed him through the stomach, and hefted him up into the air. I pushed the unmoving monsters out of the way. I thrust my sword out over the cliff, making sure to hold on so he would keep the momentum when time began again.
I made my way back to her and willed time to move again. I held her up in my arms and began to sob. “Amanda, why?”
“I’m sorry,” she coughed up blood, and I wiped it off her mouth, “I just had to.”
“I love you.” I told her.
She was the love of my life, my soulmate, and there she was, dying in my arms. The person I trusted with my deepest secrets, the girl I finally opened up to after 10 years of being trained to be a cold killing machine. There was no healing this without divine intervention; both her lungs were punctured.
She was gone. The life faded from her eyes, and blood poured from her wounds, soaking into my clothes. I never cleaned that outfit again. I closed her eyes and laid her body down on the grass. The battle raging around me had turned to white noise, as the campers ran out of arrows and began to die off. Chase escaped in that moment, and it’s a good thing, because had he been in my way, I may not have let him live.
Slowly – my entire body trembling – I got to my feet. My hair ignited several times as I got up, I pulled Amanda’s knife out of her hand, and grabbed my sword off the ground. The knife in my left hand, the sword in my right, and both blades ignited in white hot flames. Fire circled my body, resembling a godly aura of power, vaporizing any monsters that were too close to me.
My senses were on overdrive, my adrenaline allowed me to slow time again as I raced through the army, slashing down every monster in sight. I screamed at the top of my lungs, but all I could hear was her voice, reliving a memory from only a few days prior as I slaughtered the hordes of abominations with a smile on my face, and tears pouring down.
It was at camp, we had both snuck out to the upper field at the top of camp to watch the stars together since it was the darkest place there.
I turned to look her in the eyes. “Hey, Amanda?” I said
“Yeah Vulcan?” she asked me.
I stood up and offered her my hand to help her up.
“I know we are still young, but these past 4 and a half years have been the best of my life. I have fallen for you, and loved you with all my heart, and you have always been there for me.” I took her hand in mine, and with the other, I took a promise ring out of my pocket
“With this ring, I promise you that I will always be yours, and that when we are older, and this crazy war is over, we will be together for real. Do you accept it?”
“Vulcan this is so sudden, I never expected this, but of course, of course I promise I will always be yours as well.” I put the ring on her finger and kissed her.
Back in the present, I was still crying and laughing as I took vengeance against every monster that touched the camps borders. I had pushed them all out of camp with only a little covering fire supplied by the riflery kids and counselors.
2 years later – September of 2015 – it was the final battle of the war, I was now 18 years old, and a tank that took on every horde I faced and slaughtered them all. After Amanda died, I went almost mute, only talking when absolutely necessary, and only showing emotion in combat. More of the prophesy had come true. I was granted the darkest name, The Reaper of Night. My sword finally earned a name as well; every time I defeated one of the elder monsters, a letter appeared on the flat of the blade. The first was an R that appeared after I killed the Minotaur. I didn’t notice it until that night when I was cleaning the blade. I took no time to mourn. I only ever broke down when I was at her grave. Other elder monsters I defeated were the Nemean Lion, the Calydonian Boar, and even Medusa; I got my revenge for what she did in the first battle, but it wasn’t without heavy casualties. Eventually the letters on the blade spelled out the swords name in golden ichor, Reaper. I hadn't yet learned to control my time powers; I was only able to call on it at moments of extreme importance, when my emotions were no longer under control.
I no longer fought on the side of the gods, they had abandoned me in my time of greatest need; now I only fought for the reason of getting revenge. The gods had cast me out until now anyway. Their fear of what I had become was too strong. My father was banished for challenging Zeus when they threw me to the mortal world. Olympus was being stormed and leading the assault was Lycus, my brother that disappeared during the first assault, no body was found so he was assumed dead, but that would have been a better fate for him, as he had turned to the enemy’s side. I confronted him in the Olympian throne room
Lycus was my friend, a trusted ally in battle, and an expert swordsman. As we traded blows, I noticed several things that had changed since I had last seen him two years ago. His glossy black hair had grown down to his shoulders and was now needle straight. He wore a black patch over his right eye.
“Lycus,” I screamed at him, “How could you turn to them?”
He got this look in his eyes, a look only a madman could make, and the corners of his mouth curled up into a ghastly smile that revealed another thing that had changed in him. There were scars on each side of his mouth, as if someone had cut a smile into his face like that old comic villain.
“Oh, I didn’t want to, Vulcan,” he explained as he parried my sword, leading into a slash that opened a gash on my left arm, “When you ordered the retreat from Bellport, you left me there for them to find. You don’t know the things they did to me until I agreed to fight for them.”
The pain in my arm was searing hot. I tried to blast him with fire to turn the tides of the battle, but something was wrong, my magic wasn’t working.
“We searched for you!” I roared as I lunged towards him.
The smile faded from his lips, and his eyes went wide as he looked down at the sword embedded in his shoulder. Tears fell from my face now as I prepared to strike down this man who used to be my friend
Just before I delivered the final blow, I was struck with paralysis, and fell to the ground. Lycus fell to his knees next to me, clutching his shoulder, and trying to stop the blood from gushing out. I must have hit an artery. I could hear the click of heels on the marble floor, and out of the shadows, stepped Hecate my old magic mentor. It's no wonder my magic wasn’t working, she must have been suppressing it somehow.
“Poor little fire boy.” She said. “Always destined to be the savior of Olympus, but not even able to save your precious love.”
I was unable to move or respond, but her talking about my Amanda like that sent my adrenaline pumping. Small, candle-sized flames danced around me.
“You know it was all thanks to this one here,” she patted Lycus on the shoulder causing him to scream in pain, “that we got intel on you and your precious girlfriend. I’m disappointed in you, three years of teaching you, and you couldn’t recognize a simple glamour spell; didn’t it seem strange to you that one little mortal was so intent on getting you kicked out despite never having met you before?”
Of course, how could I have been so stupid. He didn’t look familiar, and yet I could swear I had met him before. It was the way he walked, talked, and just carried himself in general. It had been Lycus spying on us the entire time. The flames around me grew, causing Hecate to laugh more.
"If you're wondering why I would do all this," she started, "I have never exactly been the friendliest goddess. My mother is physical embodiment night, and I didn’t have a father. Night isn't exactly known for being happy and playful. I'm not just the goddess of sorcery; I am the goddess of the crossroads and decisions. I saw a choice before me, and I chose the side that would win. Face it Vulcan, the gods were growing weak. Now that the humans have seen that we are real again, we have strengthened to levels we haven't seen in millennia, and so have the monsters."
I fought the paralysis with all my strength. My blood roared in my ears, and waves of heat started flowing off of me. The Olympians weren't here to save me; there was an emergency down in Sicily that they had to deal with. Hecate kicked me in the side, sending me flying. I smashed through my father's throne. It crumbled around me. My sword had flown out of my hand, and embedded itself in a marble pillar. I screamed in agony, my entire body felt like it was burning up.
"Cut that out, you freak!" She screamed at me. "I don’t know how the other gods didn’t see it sooner. I knew what you were the second you walked into my arena when you were 6 years old. The only true Demi-Titan ever born. Technically your mother was one, but she was just a vessel for Kronos' essence so I could get to you."
My paralysis had faded when she kicked me, she must have been distracted. She leaned down to heal Lycus' wounds. When she wasn’t looking, I tried shifting around a bit and a sharp pain pierced my chest. Several ribs were broken. I coughed up blood. I knew that wasn’t a good sign.
I overheard her talking to Lycus, "Watch this one, I have some plans for him. He could be useful." Without looking, I listened to her walking out of the throne room, most likely to join the monsters that were currently breaking down buildings.
As Lycus walked over to me, I slowly inched my hand to the shoulder holster I kept underneath my coat. I could feel Amanda's knife underneath me, still locked into its sheath. It was a sword handle dagger, with a silver, leather wrapped grip, and a blade forged from Damascus gold and silver. It was a reward given to her after we completed a quest for hades. I kept it after she died and used it to kill the monsters I deemed the vilest. I carefully unclasped it and drew the 11-inch blade.
"You really are an idiot." He said to me. "You can make it easy on yourself; join us. Amanda wouldn’t want you to suffer." He had no right to say what she would have wanted, he didn’t even have the right to speak her name; it was his fault she died.
Time froze. My adrenaline spiked enough for me to use Kronos' powers. As much as I wanted to, I wouldn’t let the aura of fire out just yet, and I wouldn’t kill him while time was frozen.
I ripped the sword out of his hand, making sure I broke a few fingers in the process. I plunged the knife back into the recently healed wound, and pulled it back out. I swept his legs and slammed him into the ground. Once I was kneeling over him with the point of the blade pressing against his abdomen, I willed time to move again. Once he realized what position, the smile once again disappeared from his face. Tears rolled down my cheeks and dripped onto his leather armor.
"I'm sorry, Lycus." It was jarring to say his name when he was at the end of my knife. He was my friend once. "You should have used your distress beacon; we could have found you."
He spit in my face, and the crazy smile came back, "You were too weak, you could never lead us to victory."
"I mourned you!" I screamed at him.
He brought his arm up quickly and bashed a chunk of my father's throne against my head, knocking me off of him, but I didn’t drop the knife. My vision blurred, and blood dripped into my left eye. My head throbbed, and I stumbled as I got to my feet.
"It's not too late," I told him, "Pledge yourself to the gods; they will forgive you." I pleaded with him.
"The gods abandoned me!"
"They abandoned me too, but I don’t fight for them anymore," I hoped I could change him back to the brother I once had, "you don’t have that choice anymore."
He drew a knife and rushed me. I was in no condition to fight back. I only had one idea, "What would your sister say?" I yelled as loud as I could.
He stopped with the knife poking into the front of my armor shirt; chainmail this thin wouldn’t protect me from being stabbed by such a narrow blade. His eyes were wide with shock, and tears dripped down his face, and for a moment, I could see that young boy we rescued under that bridge.
"My sister," he choked out, "my sister is dead." His expression turned cold once again as he drove the knife into my chest.
It didn’t hurt, it felt like ice was spreading across my body. I wrapped my arms around him, and as I fell over, I stabbed him at the top of his spine; instant death. We both collapsed to the ground, upon the ruins of my father's throne. I heard horns blowing outside, along with melodious tunes of a lyre. The gods had returned. We were going to win.
My breathing slowed, and my heartbeat faltered. Memories played out before my life. The first time I ever met Amanda. Years of training. My first kiss. My first battle. Her death. The world faded to black as my father ran into the throne room and saw me.
I opened my eyes and I was laying on a black sand beach next to a river. I checked my pocket to find a pouch full of golden drachma, so I tossed one into the river. Immediately, Charon the ferryman appeared, steering a small boat. He took me before the judges of the damned. One wanted to throw me to Tartarus because of my ancestry, but the other two overruled him saying that I deserved Elysium for my valor in the war. Much to my surprise, this was the third life that my soul had reached Elysium in, so I was offered entrance to the Isles of the Blest. I denied their offer; without her, I would never find paradise.
One month later, on my 19th birthday, I left Elysium and went to the palace of Hades. The god granted me permission to wander the Fields of Asphodel to search for Amanda, and if I found her soul, he would grant her and I passage to the Isles of the Blest. His reasoning was that it was his way of making it up to me for cruelty of the other gods, and that he himself believed she deserved paradise. Hades was one of the kindest gods, but the most misunderstood.
I won’t stop until I’ve found her and made her mine once more, and I’ll be damned if the gods think I’ll ever help them again.